Bali is Indonesia’s number-one tourist destination, known for its beautiful beaches, scenic drives and an active volcano. Travellers who want to be close to the action in the main city of Kuta but stay in a quieter place can head to calmer waters a little farther south
What to do
Jimbaran Beach, on the isthmus between the main body of Bali and its little peninsula to the south, is a quiet fishing village with idyllic seaside views. The area is home to a resort community dotting the coastline and bookending the plethora of oceanfront restaurants.
For those seeking to watch the sunset from a luxe vantage point, the Sundara restaurant at the Four Seasons Bali at Jimbaran Bay has patio seating from which one can gaze at the setting sun beyond the magnificent 32-metre infinity swimming pool. Service is warm and accommodating, and cocktails – such as the zesty Wasabi Martini – are decadent and go down easy. Kick off dinner with a mouthwatering tuna tartare followed by the chargrilled rib-eye for a little turf after the surf.
For more low-key drinking and dining, enjoy the bars and seafood restaurants lining the beach, with tables and chairs brought out on the sand as the evening falls. Visitors have a seemingly endless choice of casual eateries with seafood grilled over burning coconut husks and sunset views. Smoke from the popular Menega Cafe can be seen from a distance along the stretch of beach, a beacon that tells locals and tourists alike when dinner is ready. Diners brave the massive amount of smoke pouring from the grills that leaves their clothes smelling of campfire, despite the restaurant being open-air – the delicious smoked crab, oysters, calamari, whole fish and prawns are worth it.
As night takes over, the twinkle of candles on each of the hundreds of tables lining the waterfront brings the starry night sky a little closer to earth as beachgoers watch Jimbaran Bay bring its water to the sand and the lights of resort bungalows glow in the distant hills that hug the water.
In the daytime, the tables are cleared and the beach offers calm waves and clear water – the perfect place to bake oneself in the sun until the heat of the day forces you to take a dip. Popular surfing beaches to the south and tropical forests to the east are a short car ride away.
There are several nearby temples to visit, and the recently completed Garuda Wisnu statue in Garuda Wisnu Kencana National Park is the biggest religious attraction – literally. The statue of the Hindu god Vishnu is visible from mainland Bali and is one of the tallest monuments in the world, at 120m high. Surrounding the towering monument is 60ha of parkland with cultural events, restaurants and quiet oases.
Where to stay
Surrounded by trees and right next to the beach is Mövenpick Resort & Spa, a calm oasis with touches of local culture. Musicians seated on pillows pluck traditional stringed instruments at the entrance to greet travellers. Behind them lies an array of chocolate desserts, set out every afternoon during happy hour. Teatime nibblers can take their treats to the balcony off the lobby, where stadium seating and armchairs provide a view of the four interconnected swimming pools and the sea beyond the trees.
From this central location, guests split off to their rooms spread out over four buildings and family bungalows where they find a selection of chocolate-covered strawberries and the local coconut treats klepon and lak-lak with sticky rice. The Mövenpick is loaded with dining, snacking and drinking options, with its two restaurants, two bars and a cafe. One restaurant boasts an extensive breakfast buffet running each morning until 11, with everything from waffles to noodle soup. The hotel is next to a shopping centre where you’ll find Chinese barbecue, sushi and other satisfying cuisines.
Unwinding on the beach or by the pool is lovely, but for those seeking even more intense relaxation, the resort’s spa offers needed attention. The spa decor spotlights traditional textiles, and treatments feature signature herbal salves from the spa’s apothecary to suit the needs of each traveller. And for those who need to step up the action just a touch, the hotel offers yoga classes in its garden, aqua aerobic classes in the swimming pool and bike rentals for excursions along the tree-lined bike paths.
This article was published in the October 2018 edition of Southeast Asia Globe magazine. For full access, subscribe here.